The Importance of Stretching

flexibility (2)I hear the complaints of not being flexible all the time but very rarely do I see anyone that is actually motivated to do something about it. I can only assume this is because people don’t understand the importance of stretching and flexibility.  I also know stretching can feel more like a chore than pleasure and if you don’t know what you are doing then you won’t see much progress.

Stretching has not only physical benefits but also mental, spiritual, and psychological benefits. Some of the tops benefits for me are:

  • Flexibility determines what movements you are able to make and how fast, accurate, and powerful they can be. If you are involved in sports this can be a key to getting an edge over your competition.
  • Flexibility helps your posture become more upright without mental reminders and your body become more relaxed as it reduces overall tension in the body. Better posture also helps you breathe deeper which improves overall health.
  • Flexibility relieves pain, prevents injuries, and helps relieve stress.
  • Flexibility teaches you how to embrace being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Stretching
This is something you can do on your own whenever and wherever you want. All you need to know is the top five stretches that work for you. You could do a google search or you could ask a physical therapist, massage therapist, personal trainer or fitness instructor for recommendations based on your body. I also do skype sessions with clients to teach them a stretching routine and make personal youtube videos for them to follow along with. A small routine can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes a day and will make you feel so much better.

Yoga
Try it on your own, go to a class at a local studio, try a class online with YogaGlo or Gaiam. This is an arena that it is best to do your homework first. Yoga can help you become more flexible but depending on the style of yoga it could be a slow road to progress. Holding a stretch for longer periods of time is when the muscle actually has the time to relax and go further into a stretch to help increase your flexibility. Classes that are quickly moving through the poses will generally take a longer period of time to increase flexibility than classes where postures are being held for over a minute.

Assisted Stretching
This is a one-on-one technique that you will need a professional for but it is a way to get instant results. You get what you pay for! All you need is a thirty minute session so it should not be a large financial burden or if you already get personal training you could ask them to do this for the last fifteen minutes of your session.

Thai Yoga Bodywork
This is also a one-on-one technique that you will need a professional for. With my experience this is the quickest way to increase your flexibility. I used to do this for the NBA and saw players get more progress in the first week than doing a year of yoga. If increasing your flexibility is important to you and you want lasting change then this is the approach for you.

I hope you find a technique that works for you. Flexibility is important and it is one more thing we begin to lose as we age. Don’t procrastinate on this! It is so simple to add into the daily routine. Start with just one stretch in the morning when you get up and one before bed at night.

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The Practice of “A Little”

Small Steps I was taught that it is better to have a practice of many little things than no practice at all. I find this concept is the key to success. We have a tendency to think we need to take massive steps in order to succeed but because the steps are so huge we don’t take them at all and stand still frozen in the same patterns. We think we need to spend at least an hour at the gym and when we can’t fit that time block into our busy schedule then we don’t go at all instead of doing a 4-minute session of tabata training right at home. We try to find a yoga class that will work in our schedule and when life interferes we don’t go at all instead of taking the time to do five rounds of sun salutations at home.  We think we need a massive overhaul in our diet when replacing juices and sodas with water is actually a huge improvement. The secret to success lies in your daily routine. Find a way to take small steps forward each day. Create your own practice of “a little”.

 

The Teacher Has Become The Student

I think I could write a book about the interesting yoga classes I have taught while I have been in Nicaragua the past six weeks. I can’t imagine the stories I will have by the end of six months! It has been awhile since I have taught yoga on a daily basis so I am really observing and learning a lot as I teach. I think a benefit of being at a hotel is a large population of our guests are fairly new to yoga so I get to observe the beginner’s mind and body. I am seeing that often times yoga is not completely appropriate for everyone’s body. Our posture has gotten so bad that it is impossible for many people to do the basic sun salutations. I have made it my mission to create a new method to take these postural factors into consideration when teaching yoga. I am still in the beginning stages but it is creating an interesting experience as I observe students in class. I am diving deep into my research most days and am excited to feel like a student again. I suppose I was lucky that my mom always nagged me for slouching! I don’t quite understand why people don’t understand how important posture is but I hope I can help be the change 🙂